A viral video fo a California police officer repeatedly punching a 14-year-old boy while trying to subdue the teen as he resisted arrest has sparked outrage online and an investigation by law enforcement.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office says it has launched a use-of-force probe into the Monday incident involving a Rancho Cordova cop identified in reports as Officer Brian Fowell.
A 15-second video of the encounter posted to social media shows the officer struggling to subdue the teen — identified in reports as 14-year-old Elijah Tufono — first grabbing his right arm while kneeling beside the boy, then pushing Tufono’s face into the ground as the youth says, “Don’t do this, bro!”
The officer proceeds to punch Tufono at least three times as the teen and a witness who caught the exchange on video pleaded for him to stop, video shows.
A statement Tuesday from the sheriff’s office said Fowell saw what he believed to be a “hand-to-hand exchange” between an adult and the teen following reports of “sales of alcohol, tobacco and drugs to minors” in the area.
“When the deputy approached the juvenile, the juvenile was uncooperative and refused to give the deputy basic identifying information,” sheriff spokesperson Sgt. Tess Deterding said in the statement. “He told the deputy he was 18 years old.”
“Having reasonable suspicion that criminal activity was occurring, the deputy attempted to detain the juvenile so he could conduct further investigation, she continued.
“The juvenile became physically resistive at that time, causing the deputy to lose control of his handcuffs, which landed several feet away. The deputy attempted to maintain control of the juvenile without his handcuffs and while alone waiting for his partners to arrive and assist him.”
The officer ultimately found Tufono in possession of tobacco products, which is “presumably the reason for his resistance,” Deterding said. He was cited and released, police said.
“This type of situation is hard on everyone – the young man, who resisted arrest, and the officer, who would much rather have him cooperate,” Deterding said.
While an investigation into the incident is in its early stages, Tufono admitted that he wasn’t truthful with the cop, identified by KTXL as Officer Brian Fowell.
“I did lie to him and I didn’t cooperate, and I know that and I made that mistake,” Tufono told the station. “But that didn’t give him no right to do what he did.”
Tufono, who claimed Fowell tried to handcuff him without telling him why, said the officer got “aggressive” when he pulled his right hand back.
“I mean, I do forgive him,” Tufono said. “I have nothing against the cop. He was just doing his job, I guess.”
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